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creatures owe to their Creator, Sovereign and Judge. A denial of the divine purposes, agency and sovereignty in the existence of evil límits every divine perfection and opposes the goodness as well as the power, the holiness as well as sovereignty of Jehovah. The very name and nature of God denote and imply supremacy. If the good designs of God are not above the evil designs of man, he is not the Sovereign of the Universe, but is subject to human ignorance and weakness, wickedness and folly. If the true knowledge, worship and enjoyment of God are useful, it is useful to perceive and know, that his good designs are above the evil designs of men; and that what they mean for evil he means for good.
2. It is necessary to perceive, that the evil designs of men are subject to the good designs of God, in order to understand the gospel. In respect to the gospel, there
, can be but two schemes of doctrine. One scheme is, that the purpose and work of God in redemption are subject to the existence of moral evil. The other scheme is, that the existence of moral evil is subject to the purpose and work of God in redemption. The first scheme implies, that since moral evil has entered the universe, according to the independent and self-caused determination and
agency of moral agents, God now intends to do the best he can, by means and motives, without any encroachment upon the liberty and independence of his enemies, for their instruction, holiness and happiness. This scheme supposes it might have been as well, if no evil had ever existed ; but that evil is incidental to any possible system of created existence; and that God, in the counsel of his own will, was subject to a choice of difficulties ; either the difficulty of having no proper subjects of moral government, or the difficulty of having such subjects, as might, in their liberty and independence, rebel against his gov. ernment. The second of these difficulties, it is supposed,
. in the scheme before us, God selected and that the purpose and work of redemption, according to this gospel, are subject to the existence of moral evil. The other scheme is, that the existence of moral evil is subject to the purpose and work of God in redemption. In order to know which of these schemes agrees with the true gospel of God, it is necessary to perceive, whether the good designs of God are subject to the evil designs of men, or their evil designs are subject to his good designs. The whole system of divine truth and the whole purpose and work of God in creation, providence and redemption must be understood, explained, believed and professed according to one, or the other of those two schemes of doctrine.
3. In order to the advancement of saints in religion, it is useful to perceive that the evil designs of man are subject to the good designs of God. According to this doctrine God may be seen, known, loved and enjoyed amidst the dark and humbling scenes, that exist on earth and in view of all the moral and natural evils, that ever come into existence. If the goodness of God in his designs and works be perceived in the evil designs and works of man, every creature, event and circumstance, that ever exists, may serve to promote the instruction, holiness, usefulness, happiness, glory, beauty and strength of his people. But if the designs of God are subject to the evil designs of man, his friends must be involved in darkness, sorrow and shame; and every pious person may be obliged to say,
as with a sword in my bones, mine enemies reproach me; while they say daily unto me, Where is thy God ?” But they, who know God, can say, our God is in the heavens ; he hath done whatsoever he pleased.” In his light they can see light in darkness ; from him they can gain strength in weakness and be filled with hope, peace
“ How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him, that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth !"
4. The doctrine, that God means for good what men mean for evil, is suited to be highly useful to sinners. It is suited to show sinners the sovereignty of God and their dependence, his goodness and their wickedness and his wisdom and their folly. If sinners ever repent and turn to God, they will repent and turn to him in view of God and themselves, of his good designs and of their evil designs. And it is only in view of his goodness even in respect to their wickedness, they can perceive any foundation, or reason for their forgiveness and salvation. A knowledge of the good designs of God in the evil designs
of men will show sinners the nature and duty of repent
And it is suited to preserve real penitents from despondence and misery and to afford confidence, comfort and joy to their afflicted and broken hearts.
What has been said on this subject suggests the following reflections.
1. Since it is from their own voluntary wickedness, that sinners design to do evil, they are always liable to be convicted of their evil conduct by their own consciences. They are conscious of their own feelings, actions and designs; and as soon as their consciences are awakened to pass a judgment upon their conduct, they will be sensible of their selfishness and ill desert and of the holiness, justice and goodness of God in their condemnation and punishment. The goodness of God in what they designed for evil will not remove, nor lessen, but greatly increase the sense and torment of their sin and guilt under conviction. The more clearly they perceive his goodness in his designs, the more will they be sensible of their wickedness in their opposition and enmity against him.
2. The true knowledge of the divine designs will remove every objection against the conduct of God. In all his conduct "God designs and performs what is good and what is best. He causes the wickedness of man to be subservient to the purposes
of his goodness and their folly to manifest his wisdom. The Psalmist says unto God, “Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee; the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain." In their ignorance and wickedness sinners are always disposed to contend and complain against the designs and conduct of God. But he is most to be praised for what he is most blamed by ignorant and foolish men. In view of the good design of God in the evil design of his brethren, Joseph received consolation and happiness and imparted instruction and comfort to their minds. Let any person, who objects and contends against the designs of God, renounce the selfishness and blindness of his own heart and he will find the highest comfort and joy in the subjection of the evil designs of men, to the good designs of God.
3. Since it is so useful to know, that God subjects the evil designs of men to his good designs, all persons need the most faithful and thorough instruction on this subject.
His designs are the foundation of all the wonders of his power, wisdom and goodness in creation, providence and redemption. It is the great and constant object of God in his works and by his word to show and teach the glory of his designs. Their formation and accomplishment satisfy and gratify his own perfect and infinite benevolence, in the highest holiness and happiness of his kingdom. They are the only sufficient foundation for the confidence and praises of the righteous. And it is only by the light and glory of his purposes, in the sin and madness of his enemies, that God can silence and confound the wicked. God proclaims, before heaven, earth and hell, this glorious doctrine, "My counsel shall stand :
• and I will do all my pleasure.” The apostle says, “ I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.” Let the teachers and preachers of divine truth declare all the counsel of God with honesty and boldness; and the righteous will rejoice, the wicked will tremble and God will be exalted in his holiness and glory. And then shall we hear, “as it were the voice of a great multitude and as the voice of many waters and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia : for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth."
M OS ES.
And, behold, the babe wept.
Exodus II. 6.
At the time this babe was born, his parents were in cruel bondage under the king of Egypt. This king had commanded that every son of Hebrew parents should be killed at his birth. But when Moses was born, his mother 6 saw him, that he was a goodly child;" and “she hid him three months.” When she could no longer hide him, she put him in an ark of bullrushes and laid it by the river's brink. At this time the daughter of Pharaoh came to the river and saw the ark. And " she sent her maid to fetch it. And when she had opened it, she saw the child ; and, behold, the babe wept.” From these words it is proposed,
I To consider the state of Moses in his infancy. 1. He was in a most feeble and helpless condition. He could not defend, nor deliver himself from any evil. He could not obtain the least good for himself. He had strength to do nothing but cry.
2. He was without knowledge. Respecting himself and the objects around him, the world into which he was born and the evils and dangers near him, he was in total ignorance. He knew nothing of the fear of his father, of the tears of his mother, or the watchful love of his sister. In the ark he could only feel, that his mother was not there. And he wept.
3. He was without moral goodness. It was not through pride, that his mother “saw he was a goodly child.” For Stephen says, “ He was exceeding fair.” Yet, how
" ever fair he might be in his form and features, he had, as he was born into the world, nothing of the holy image of God.